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History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

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near east and west, distant about three miles
south of the great road aforesaid; that divers
of the said tracts and settlements within the
said manor, have been surveyed and confirmed
: by patents, and many that have been sur-
vey ed, remained to be confirmed by patents, for
whichthe settlers have applied; that the pro-
prietor is desirous, that a complete draft or map
and return of survey of the said manor, shall be
replaced and remain for their and his use, in
the Surveyor-General's office, and also, in the
Secretary's office; that by special order and
direction, a survey for the proprietor's ttse
was made by Thomas Cookson, Deput}' Sur-
veyor (in 1741), of a tract on. both sides of
the Codorus, within the said manor, for the
site of a town, whereon York Town has since
been laid out and built, but no retiu-nof that
survey being made, the premises were resur-
veyed by George Stevenson, Deputy Surveyor
(in December, 1752), and found to contain
436| acres."

After the recital, the warrant directed the
Surveyor- General "to re-survey the said tract
for the proprietor's use, as part of his one-
tenth, in order that the bounds and lines
thereof, may be certainly known and ascer-
tained." James Tilghman, Secretary of the
land office, on the 13th of May, 1768, wrote
to John Lukens, Surveyor-General, to pro-
ceed with all expedition on the survey, and
make return of the outline of the manor at
least. The survey was accordingly execttted
from the 12th to the 13th of June, 1768, and
the plat was returned into the land office,
and also into the Secretary's office, on the
12th of July, 1768, containing 6-4,520 acres,
a part of the original tract of 70,000 acres
having been cut off, under the agreement
between Penn and Baltimore, to satisfy the
claims of Maryland settlers. This is known
as Hamilton's Survey.


Between 1736 and 1740 there were early
settlements made on an immense tract of land


in the western portion of the county of York
laid out for the proprietaries' use, and named
the Manor of Maske. When the provincial
surveyors arrived for the purpose of run-
ning its lines, the settlers upon it, not under-
standing, or not approving the purpose, drove
them off by force. Some of the settlers had
taken out regular warrants, others had licen-
ses, and some were there probably without
either. As a result, the lines were not run
till January, 1766, and the return of them
was made on the 7th of April, 1768, to the
land office.

"The manor then surveyed is nearly a
perfect oblong. The southerly line is 1,887
perches; the northern, 1,900 perches; the
western line, 3,842 perches; the eastern 3,-
954. It is nearly six miles wide, and about
twelve miles long. The southern line is
probably a half mile north of Mason and
Dixon's line, and the northern is about mid-
way between Mummasburg and Arendtsville,
skirting a point marked on the county as
Texas, on the road from Gettysburg to Mid-
dletown, does not quite reach the Conewago
Creek. The manor covers the town of Get-
tysburgh and Mummasburg, the hamlet of
Seven Stars, and probably McKnightstown,
all of the township of Cumberland, except a
small strip of half a mile along the Mary-
land line, nearly the whole of Freedom,
about one-third of Highland, the southeast
corner of Franklin, the southern section of
Butler, the western fringe of Straban, and a
smaller fringe on the west side of Mount
Joy. Gettysburg is situated north of the
center, and on the eastern edge of the manor,
and is thus about live and a half miles from
the northern, and seven and a half from the
southern. The manor is separated by a nar-
row strip on the west from Carroll's Tract,
or "Carrolls Delight," as it was originally
called, and which was surveyed under Mary-
land's authority on the 3d of April, 1732. It
was patented August 8,1735, to Charles, Mary
and Eleanor Carroll, whose agents made sales
of warrants for many years, supposing that
the land lay within the grant of Lord Balti-
more, and in the county of Frederick. As
originally surveyed Carroll's Delight con-
tained 5,000 acres.*"

A special act of Assembly was passed on
the 23d of March, 1797, relating to the Manor
of Maske. It recited that -'certain citizens
had settled themselves and made improve-
ments on the lands comprehended within its
limits antecedently to the warrant issuing for
the survey of the same; and without notice
that any such measure was in contempla-

*A. Sheely, In Egle's Hist, of Penna , pp. 381-82.

tion," and as doubts had arisen whether the
said survey was regular, "and the said set-
tlers and inhabitants in whose favor the said
exceptions might have been urged, waived
the same, and had agreed or are in treaty
with, and ready to conclude a purchase for
John Penn and Richard Penn, Esqs., There-
fore, to remove any uneasiness in the minds
of the said inhabitants that the committee
may claim the land to encourage agriculture
and improvement, by sending titles free from
dispute and remove any prejudice against the
rights derived from the late proprietaries, the
lands marked by the survey of the manor in
the month of January, 1676, shall be free
and clear of any claim of the Common-
wealth." But in 1800 all this territory was
included in the new county of Adams.*

blumstone's licenses.
la 1734 a title originated, which in con-
troversies concerning the Manor of Spring-
etsbury, became the subject of judicial in-
vestigation. The land on the west of the
Susquehanna not having been purchased
from the Indians, no absolute title, irregular,
or otherwise, could be given according to the
established usage and law. But the dispute
was existing with Lord Baltimore, concerning
the boundary of William Penn's charter and
the Marylanders were extending their settle-
ments up the Susquehanna. On the 11th of
January, 1733-34,* a special commission
was given to Samuel Blunston, a gentleman
resident on the banks of the Susquehanna,
to encourage the settlement of the country,
and most of the titles over the Susquehanna
originated in the licenses issued by him,
to settle and take up lands on the west
side of the river. Not because the land
office was at that time closed as has been
generally conceived, but because the office
could not be opened for those lands which
were not yet purchased of the Indians. He
issued many licenses from January, 1734.

*In Day's Annals it is said that the manor was established
hy warrant from the Penns in 1740.

About the year 1740 a number of the Scotch-Irish made the
first settlement on what is now Adams County, among the hills
near the sources of Marsh Creek. At that time the limestone
lands inthe lower part of the county (of York), now so valuable
in Ibe hands of the German farmers, were not held in high
estimation , on account of the scarcity of water, and the Scotcli- passed them by to select the slate lands, with the pure
springs and mountain air to which they had been accustomed

Descendants are still cultivating the farms which their
fathers opened one hundred years since. Mr. McPherson's an-
cestors settled about 1741-42, when the patent is dated. Mr.
William McClellan, the well known and obliging landlord at

1740. The land still remains in possession of the family, and
the graves of the deceased members are all there."— XIayj Annals,
p. 58, (,18U>).

fThiswas before the beginingof the year was fixed by law
on the 1st of January instead of the 2oth of March, hence old
and new style.— .ZJ^rrfmes, OS.



to October, 1737, by which he promised
patents on the usual terms, when the pur-
chases should be made from the Indians.
The first license issued by Samuel Blunston
was dated the 24:th of January, 1733-34, and
the last on the 31st of October, 1737, all of
which, and they were numerous prior to the
11th of October, 1736, were for lands out of
the Indian purchase. These grants the pro-
prietors were bound tw confirm, being issued
by their express consent, as soon as they
purchased the lands from the natives, upon
the clearest legal principles, as expressed in
the case of Weiser's Lessee vs. Moody.*

This title was always recognized, and
after the purchase made in 1736, the propri-
etary confirmed the licenses by regular war-
rants. They were likened by some to loca-
tions, by others to warrants. They had all
the essential parts of a warrant, except in the
single circumstance of the purchase money
not being previously paid. They contained
a direction to make a survey, equally with a
warrant, and it was the constant usage of
surveyors to make surveys under them, in
the same manner as under warrants, and
such surveys were accepted in the office, f

In the case of Penn's Lessee against
Kline, J it is said, "In order to resist the
Maryland intrusions, encouragements were
ofifered by Sir W. Keith, and accepted
by a number of Germans, for forming settle-
ments on the tract, which had been thus
surveyed; and in October, 1736, Thomas
Penn having purchased the Indian claim to
the land, empowered Samuel Blunston to
grant licenses for 12,000 acres (which were
sufficient to satisfy the rights of those who
had settled, perhaps fifty in number) within
the ti'act of land "commonly called the
Manor of Springetsbury," under the invita-
tions of the Governor. But in addition to
such settlers, not only the population of the
tract in dispute, but of the neighboring
county, rapidly increased." In 1736,
Thomas Penn was in Lancaster, and signed
warrants taken under Blunston's licenses.
The number of Germans who had formed
settlements on the tract is elsewhere men-
tioned as fifty-two. In Calhoun's Lessee vs.
Dunning, § the inception of the plantiflf's
title depended upon an extract from the record
of licenses or grants by Blunston, dated
March, 1734-35, which was merely a minute
in these words: "John Calhoun, 200 acres
on Dunning's Run, called the Dry Spring,
between Jacob Dunning and Ezekiel Dun-

«n Yeates, 27.

tLessee of Dunning vs. Carruthers, II Yeates, 17.

IIV Dallas, 405.

PV Dallas, 120.

ning." A number of ejectments were
brought for tracts of land, lying in York
County, in all of which the general question
was, whether the land was included in a
tract called and known by the name of a pro-
prietary manor duly surveyed and returned
into the land office, on or before the 4th day
of July, 1776. The titles of the lessors of the
plaintiff, to the premises in dispute, were
regularly deduced from the charter of Charles
the Second, to William Penn, provided there
was a manor called and known by the name
of Springetsbury, duly surveyed and returned,
according to the terms and meaning of the act
of the 27th of November, 1779.* On the trial
of the cause already mentioned, evidence was
given on each side to maintain the oppo-
site position respecting the existence or non-
existence of the Manor of Springetsbury,
from public instruments, from the sense
expressed by the proprietaries, before the
Revolution, in their warrants and patents;
from the sense expressed by the warrants and
patents issued since the Revolution; from the
practice of the land office, and from the
current of public opinion. The general
ground taken by the plaintiff's counsel was:
First, That the 'land mentioned is a part of a
tract called or known by the name of a Pro-
prietary Manor. Second, that it was a
proprietary manor duly surveyed, and Third,
that the survey was duly made and re-
turned before the 4th of July, 1776. . . .
The defendant's counsel contended: 1. That
Sir William Keith's warrant, being issued in
1722, without authority, all proceedings on
it were absolutely void, and that neither
the warrant nor survey had ever been re-
turned into the land office. 2, That Gov.
Hamilton's warrant was issued in 1762, to
resurvey a manor which had never been
legally surveyed, and was in that respect to
be regarded as a superstructure without a
foundation. 3, That the recitals of Gov.
Hamilton's warrant are not founded in
fact, and that considering the survey, in
pursuance of it, as an original survey, it was
void as against compact, law and justice, that
the proprietor should assume, for a manor,
land settled by individuals.

The licenses granted by Thomas Penn, in
1736, to about fifty-two settlers, in different
parts of the first, as well as second survey,
in which this is called the Manor of Sprin-
getsbury was strongly relied upon to show
that, even at that early period, it had
acquired this name. The tenor of the war-
rants afterward granted for lands within
this manor, varying from the terms of the

*I Smith's Laws, 480.


common warrants, marked this manor land.
There was testimony to show that the weat
line of this manor was always reputed to go
considerably beyond York to Oyster's.

As some of the persons interested in the
ejectments brought for lands in Springets-
bury Manor had purchased from the Com-
monwealth, and it would be entitled to
all arrears of purchase money if the proprie-
tary title should not be established, the Leg-
islature had authorized the Governor to
employ counsel to assist the counsel of the
defendants. After the decision of the case of
Penn's lessee vs. Kline, the Legislature ap-
pointed James Eoss and James Hopkins,
Esqs. , to take defense in the next ejectment,
Penn's lessee vs. Groff,* which was tried
in the .ipril term, 1806, and upon the
same charge, the same verdict was given.
The defendant's counsel, having tendered
a bill of exceptions to the charge of the
court, arrangements were made to obtain a
linal decision of the Supreme Court, upon a
writ of error. It appears, however from the
journals, that the Legislature was not dis-
posed to interfere any further, and terms of
compromise were proposed and accepted by
the parties. The resolution appointing
Messrs. Ross and Hopkins, counsel for the
inhabitants of Springetsbury Manor, was
passed March 31, ISOe.f

The proprietary manors were reserved
by the Legislature after the Revolution to
the Penns, while their title to all other
lands in the province was divested in favor
of the commonwealth. The royal grant of
the province of Pennsylvania to William
Penn was an absolute one, and the quit rents
reserved by him and his heirs, on the aliena-
tion of lands therein, became their private
property. By the Revolution and consequent
change of government, the proprietaries lost
the right of pre-emption of unpurchased land,
in which the Indian title was not extinguished.
The grant to Penn was in free and com-
mon socage; but the Revolution and the act
for vesting the estates of the late proprieta-
ries in the commonwealth and for the opening
of the land oeBce, passed in 1779 and 1781, J
abolished all feudal land tenures, and ren-
dered them purely allodial in their character,
even as to lands held by the late proprieta-
ries in their private capacity. At the com-
mencement of the war of the American Rev-
olution, the proprietary went to Great Brit-
ain, where he remained, and in the year
1779 the Legislature of Pennsylvania passed

*IV Dallas, 410.

tP. L. 682. 8 Bloren, 474.

t2 Smith's Laws, 532.

the act ' ' for vesting the estates of the late
proprietaries of Pennsylvania in this common-
wealth." It was held, however, in the courts,
that the lands within the lines of the survey
of the manor were excepted out of the gen-
eral operation of the act, and were not vested
in the commonwealth.* The powern of gov-
ernment and rights of property were always
kept distinct, the former being exercised by
the General Assembly, and the latter by means
of aa agency, constituting what is called a
land office. After the Revolution, the pro-
prietaries had, and still have a land office, to
receive purchase moneys and grant patents.
The commonwealth did not receive the pur-
chase money of lands included within the
limits of manors, nor grant patents for them.
There were, in fact, two land offices. The
act of investiture contained the following:

"All and every estate of those claim-
ing to be proprietaries of Pennsylvania, to
which they were entitled on the 4th day of
July, 1776, in, or to the soil and land con-
tained within the limits of said province,
together with royalties, etc., mentioned or
granted in the charter of said King Charles;
the Second shall be, and they are hereby
vested in the commonwealth of Pennsyl-

" There was nothing in the act of 1779,
which would lead to the opinion that the
legislature was actuated by a spirit of hos-
tility against the Penn family. The great
object of the act was to transfer the
right to the soil of Pennsylvania fi'om the
proprietary to the commonwealth. This was
the great and national object. In addition
to the private estates of the family, to man-
ors actually surveyed and to the quit rents
reserved on the lands sold within the manors,
120,000 pounds sterling are bestowed on the
family amongst other considerations, in re-
membrance of the enterprising spirit which
distinguished the founder of Pennsylvania.
The line of partition between the common-
wealth and the Penn family was to be drawn.
It was proper that the commonwealth, and
Penn, and the people of Pennsylvania, should
be able distinctly to discern it.f "To have
suffered the Penn family to retain those
rights, which they held strictly in their pro-
prietary character, would have been incon-
sistent with the complete political indepen-
dence of the State. The province was a
tief held immediately from the Crown, and
the Revolution would have operated very in-
efficiently toward complete emancipation, if
the feudal relation had been suffered to re-


main. It was therefore necessary to extin-
guish all foreign interest in the soil, as well as
foreign jui-isdiction in the matter of govern-
ment."* "We are then to regard the Revo-
lution and these Acts of Assembly, as eman-
cipating every acre of soil in Pennsylvania
from the grand characteristic of the feudal
system. Even as to the lands held by the
proprietaries themselves, they held them as
other citizens held under the commonwealth,
and that by a title purely allodial. . . . The
State became the proprietor of all lands, but
instead of giving them like a feudal lord to
an enslaved tenantry, she has sold them for
the best price she could get, and conferred
on the purchaser the same absolute estate
she held herself."!

Among the proceedings of the Supreme
Executive Council, January, 25, 1787, ap-
pears the following: "A letter from Tench
Francis, Esq., requesting the delivery of a
number of counterparts of patents for lands
within the Manor of Springetsbury, granted
by the late proprietaries of Pennsylvania,
now in the keeping of the Secretary of the
land office, was laid before Council; and on
consideration, an order was taken that the
Secretary of the land office be authorized
and instructed to deliver to John Penn
and John Penn, Jr., or their attorney
the counterparts of all such patents for
lots within the Manor of Springetsbury
as upon examination shall appear to be
entered : in the Rolls office, taking their re-
ceipt for the same. And on September 22,
1788, the following appears: "A memorial
from John Penn, Jr., an<l John Penn, by
their agent, Anthony Butler, containing a
brief of their title to the Manor of Spring-
etsbury, lying north of the city of Philadel-
phia, was read together with several inclos-
ures; the memorial and inclosures were pat
into the hands of the committee appointed
upon the petition of Thomas Britain and


■ The warrant for the survey of Springets-
bury Manor, "issued by Gov. Hamilton, on
the 21st of May, 1762, recited: "That by
special order and direction a survey for the
proprietor's use was made by Thomas Cook-

♦Oibson, J., 7 Sergeant and Rawle, 183.

tWoodward J., 8 Wright, 501.

tAU the titles of lands In the borough of York are derived
from the Penns. The quit rents were reserved and paid. The
agency forthe Penns was inthe hands of Hon. John Cadwala-
der of Philadelphia, and the local agent here was Hon. Charles
A. Barnitz, and afterward David G. Barnitz. Esq. The last pur- of lands within the bounds of the Manor of Springets-


I made by Daniel Keller of Windsor Township in 1!I58,

I tenants in common.

son, deputy sui-veyor (in 1741) of a tract of
land on both sides of the Cordorus, within
the said manor, for the site of a town,
whereon York Town has since been laid out
and built, but no return of that survey being
made, the premises were resurveyed by
George Stevenson, deputy surveyor (in De-
comber, 1752.) and found to contain i'iQ^

The original survey was made in the
month of October, 1741. Glossbrenna's his-
tory says:

"The part east of Codorus, was immediately
laid out into squares, after the manner of
Philadelphia. For doing this the following
instructions were originally given: 'The
squares to be 4S0 feet wide; 520 long; lots
230 by 65; alleys 20; two streets .80 feet
wide, to cross each other, and 65 feet square
to be cut off the corner of each lot to make a
square for any public building or market of
110 feet each side; the lots to be let at 7
shillings sterling or value in coin current ac-
cording to the exchange; the squares to be
laid out the length of two squares to the
eastward of Codonls when any number such
as 20 houses are built.' On the margin of
the original draught of the town as then laid
out, are these words: The above squares
count in each 480 feet on every side, which in
lots of 60 feet front, and 240 feet deep, will
make 15 lots; which multiplied by the num-
ber of squares, (viz, 16, for the original
draught contains no more) gives 256 lots;
which together with the streets, at 60 feet
wide, will not take up above 102 acres of
land.' "

"After the town had been thus laid out, if
any one wished for a lot therein, he applied
at the proper office, or in the words of his
certificate he "entered his name for a lot in
the town of York, in the county of Lancas-
ter, No." &c.

"The first application or entry of names for
lots in Yorktown was in November, 1741. In
that month 23 lots were taken up, and no
more were taken up until the 10th and 11th
of March, 1746, when 44 lots were dis-
posed of. In 1748, and the two years follow-
ing, many applications were made, for York
had then become a county town. The names
of the persons who first applied for, and took
up lots in York, (Nov. 1741,) are as follows,
viz.: John Bishop, No. 57; Jacob Welsch, No.
58; Baltzer Spengler, No. 70; Michael Swoope,
No. 75; Christopher Croll, No. 85; Michael
Laub, No. 86: George Swoope, No. 87, 104,
124, & 140; Zachariah Shugart No. 92; Nich-
olas Stuke, No. 101; Arnold Stuke, No. 102;
Samuel Hoake, No. 105; Hermanus Bott, No.



106; George Hoake, No. 107 aud 117; Jacob
Crebill, No. lOS; Matthias Onvensant, No.
118; Martin Eichelberger, No. L20; Andrew
Coaler, No. 121, Henry Hendricks, No. 122;
and Joseph Hinsman, No. 123.

"The manner of proceeding to obtain a lot
was thus : The person wishing for one, ap-
plied for and requested the proprietors, to
permit him to " take up a lot. " They then
received a certificate of having made such
application ; the lot was then surveyed for

"The paper given to the applicant certify-
ing that he had entered his name, and men-
tioning the conditions, was then usually
called "a ticket," or else the particular ap-
plicant was named, as "George Swoope's
ticket.'' These tickets were transferable;
the owner of them might sell them, assign
them, or do what he pleased with them.
The possession of a ticket was by no means
the same as owning a lot. It only gave a
right to build, to obtain a patent, for the
lots were granted upon particular conditions,
strenuoixsly enforced,

"One of the usual conditions was this, viz. :
"that the applicant build upon the lot, at
his own proper cost, one substantial dwel-
ling house, of the dimensions of sixteen feet
square at least, with a good chimney of
brick or stone, to be laid in or built with
lime and sand, within the space of one year
from the time of his entry for the same. "
A continual rent was to be paid to the pro-
prietors, Thomas Penn and Richard Penn,
for every lot taken up. This was a " yearly
rent of seven shillings, sterling money of
Great Britain, or the value thereof in coin
current according as the exchange should

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 20 of 218)